A useful, strong, flame retardant substance, Asbestos, was used frequently in building materials before the harmful effects of inhaling the fibers became known. Materials it was used to create include roofing, shingles, wall boards, plaster, paper products, ceilings, floor tiles, cement, gaskets, coatings, packaging, and heat resistant fabrics. If your home or building was built before the EPA bans, it is at risk and you should have it tested before any significant remodeling, repair, maintenance, or demolition is performed.

How can I inhale Asbestos fibers?

Disturbing any material containing asbestos can easily cause fibers to be released into the air, leading to those in the area being at high risk of inhaling the fibers and suffering from the adverse effects. This often happens during remodeling, repair, maintenance, or demolition of buildings containing asbestos material without the workers performing the activities being properly informed and/or protected against exposure.

What are the adverse health effects from Asbestos exposure?

The amount of exposure to asbestos fibers generally correlates to the chance of developing an asbestos related disease. In most cases, any disease that could develop would not begin showing signs until many years after the actual exposure.

Finding out if any disease may have been caused by asbestos can be very difficult. A heath care professional will often review the patient’s life history for any potential concerns that may suggest asbestos is the cause.
If this review does present a possible association between a disease and asbestos, he or she can use special diagnostic tests to help make an actual diagnosis. These tests may include pulmonary function tests, physical examination, and / or chest x-rays. The doctor may also suggest the patient seek a specialist in asbestos related diseases.

Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are:

  • lung cancer
  • mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest, the abdomen and heart
  • asbestosis, a progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs

Where can I find Asbestos?

  • Attics, wall board, plasters and wall insulation
  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
  • Roofing and siding shingles
  • Textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
  • Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets
  • Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
  • Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
  • Heat-resistant fabrics


  • In 1973, EPA banned spray-applied surfacing with asbestos-containing material for fireproofing/insulating purposes. See National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) at 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M
  • In 1975, EPA banned installation of asbestos pipe insulation and asbestos block insulation on facility components, such as boilers and hot water tanks, if the materials are either pre-formed (molded) and friable or wet-applied and friable after drying. See National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) at 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M
  • In 1978, EPA banned spray-applied surfacing materials for purposes not already banned. See National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) at 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M
  • In 1977, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the use of asbestos in artificial fireplace embers and wall patching compounds. (See 16 CFR Part 1305 and 16 CFR 1304)
  • In 1989, the EPA issued a final rule under Section 6 of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) banning most asbestos-containing products. However, in 1991, this rule was vacated and remanded by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, most of the original ban on the manufacture, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce for the majority of the asbestos-containing products originally covered in the 1989 final rule was overturned.
  • See 40 CFR 763 Subpart I.
  • In 1990, EPA prohibited spray-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless certain conditions specified. See National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) at 40 CFR 61, Subpart Mare met.